â€”R. Brown Hartford, CT
Winters can be tough on the wallet, but there are several steps you can take to keep cash in your pocket:
Request a payment plan. Ask your energy provider if it offers a level payment plan. These plans allow you to pay a set amount each month based on factors such as your householdâ€™s past energy use. At the end of the year, you pay the difference between your providerâ€™s projection and your actual usage if more energy was used. However, youâ€™ll get a refund or credit if you used less energy.
Inspect your furnace. Itâ€™s a good idea to schedule a furnace inspection each fall. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, it is likely time for a replacement. You should also replace your filter each winter. An efficient filter will keep air circulating properly and prevent the furnace from working harder than it needs to. You can purchase a filter for about $20 from home improvement stores.
Seal and insulate your home. Sealing cracks and openings in your home will keep warm air in and cold air out. Energy Star features a guide that will show you how to do this, entitled A Do-it-Yourself Guide to Sealing and Insulating with Energy Star. It can be accessed on Energy Starâ€™s Website when you click on the home improvement tab.
Sheiresa Ngo is the consumer affairs editor at Black Enterprise magazine.